Jay Panda was removed as BJD spokesperson by Naveen Patnaik.
New Delhi: Despite denials of being perceived as interested in the BJP, Jay Panda, one of the more prominent leaders of the Biju Janata Dal or BJD was removed as his party's spokesperson today. Mr Panda, 53, wrote a newspaper column two months ago outing what he described as a brewing crisis within his party, which is led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. At the time, he was accused by his party colleague Tathagata Satpathy of possibly working on behalf of the BJP to incite a split within their party. Mr Panda had vehemently dismissed the allegation, stating that his criticism of the party was in keeping with the Chief Minister's instructions for the BJD to self-examine and improve.
BJP chief Amit Shah has made it clear that Odisha governed by Mr Patnaik since 2000, is a vital component of his agenda to expand the BJP's reach in the eastern part of the country.
In February, the BJP placed an impressive second in local body elections across the state, displacing the Congress as the state's main opposition party. Two months later, the BJP held a two-day meeting of its top leaders in Bhubaneswar in a show of strength which also doubled up as an appeal to the people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah held roadshows as they drove from the airport, surrounded by cheering supporters, to the venue of the meeting.
The BJP was in alliance with Mr Patnaik till 2009 when he ended their partnership.